WHO IS “THE RESTRAINER”?
of the interesting problems connected with Paul’s second epistle to the
Thessalonians is that of identifying the “restrainer,” who will be taken out of
the way before the manifestation of the “lawless one.” The passage is a familiar one, although
somewhat confusing in the Authorized Version due to the use of the old English
term “let,” meaning hinder. The
passage is reproduced here from the American Revised Version for greater
Now we beseech you, brethren, touching the
coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gather together unto him to the end
that ye be not quickly shaken from your mind, nor yet be troubled, either by
spirit, or by word, or by epistle as from us, as that the day of the Lord is
just at hand; let no man beguile you in any wise: for it will not be, except
the falling away come first, and the man of sin be revealed, the son of
perdition, he that opposeth and exalteth himself against all that is called God
or that is worshipped; so that he sitteth in the temple of God, setting himself
forth as God. Remember ye not, that,
when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now ye know that which restraineth, to the end that he may be
revealed in his own season. For the mystery
of lawlessness doth already work: only there is one that restraineth now, until
he be taken out of the way. And then
shall be revealed the lawless one, whom the Lord Jesus shall slay with the
breath of his mouth, and bring to nought by the manifestation of his coming;
even he, whose coming is according to the working of Satan with all power and
signs and lying wonders, and with all deceit of unrighteousness for them that
perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be
saved. And for this cause God sendeth
them a working of error, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be
judged who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness (II
verses are not particularly difficult.
Paul writes concerning the coming of the Lord and deals with the false
report that the Day of the Lord had already come. To remove this fear, assurance is given that this day will not
come until the final falling away, or apostasy, and the revelation of the
Antichrist, the “lawless one” who works by the “activity of Satan.” There is in the world today, moreover, a
restraining person or influence which holds unrighteousness in check, and
Antichrist cannot be revealed until this “restrainer” be taken out of the
way. It is at this point that
expositors differ widely, and wonder at “Paul’s mysterious words in 2 Thess.
ii. 6-7.” For those who reject the removal of the
Church prior to the revelation of Antichrist, it is of little wonder that these
are mysterious words. However, since
“all scripture is given by inspiration of God and profitable” (II Tim. 3:16),
it should not be assumed that a solution is impossible, or that the identity of
the “restrainer” cannot be determined.
is immediately evident that the passage deals with the Tribulation, even the
Day of the Lord, and with the manifestation of Antichrist as foretold in Daniel
9:27 and Revelation 13. It is also
evident that the Wicked One cannot be revealed and that present iniquity cannot
reach its peak until a “restrainer” be taken out of the way. It seems obvious that if the identity of the
restrainer can be established, much light will be shed upon the commencement
and the character of the Tribulation period.
Actually, this passage bears so vitally upon the future of the Church
that it may become a major factor in determining the relationship of the Church
to the great Tribulation.
widely divergent answers have been proposed for the identity of the restrainer,
including groups or agencies such as the Roman Empire or the Jewish State, and
individuals such as James, or even Satan.
These attempts at identifying the restrainer must be briefly examined.
A. The Roman Empire
is argued that the restrainer could not be a person, for the use of the neuter
“that which restraineth” favors identification with an agency, force, or group
Some of the early fathers thought the hinderer
was the Roman Empire, and that Paul dared not put upon paper just what was in
his mind, lest he expose the Christians to the charge of plotting the downfall
of the existing government.
Such is the view of Reese,
The oldest and best interpretation is that
Paul hesitated to set down in words what he meant, because he had in mind the
Roman Empire. The impersonal influence
was the magnificent system of law and justice throughout the Roman world; this
held lawlessness and the Man of Lawlessness in check. Then the line of emperors, in spite of wicked individuals, had
the same influence.
to this theory might be made in his own words:
“This is ingenious, but it is a mere conjecture, and precarious at
that.” The Roman Empire has not existed down
through the present age as the power which has held evil in check. The Roman government of that day was
exceedingly corrupt and was of little consequence in holding back the tides of
iniquity throughout the empire and the world.
History clearly records the tragic failure and decline of the Roman Empire. Far from restraining the evil present in the
world, Rome fell under the very weight of her own iniquity. She has long since ceased to exist as an empire,
and still Antichrist has not been revealed.
Anticipating these objections, Reese adds:
Roman law and Roman justice are still a
barrier, and the Emperors live on in the Papacy. ... “And if a man consider the
origin of this great ecclesiastical dominion, he will easily perceive that the
Papacy is no other than the ghost of the deceased Roman Empire sitting crowned
on the grave thereof.”
himself says that Roman Empire was swept away and will not be revived. How then will it restrain Antichrist and godless
forces in the last day? Did it ever
restrain evil, even when the empire was at its height? It is well to inquire further with Pollock:
Was the Roman Empire the restraining influence
when the Coliseum of Rome, built by 30,000 Jews taken captive by Titus at the
siege of Jerusalem, holding 80,000 people, echoed with the cry, “Throw the
Christians to the lions?” Was it witnessed
by 575 miles of amazing Catacombs at Rome, where the Christians were driven
underground to worship and to bury their dead to the number, it is said, of
for the idea that Roman “restraint” of evil lives on in the Papacy, as the
“ghost of the deceased Roman empire,” when on remembers that down through the
centuries the Roman Church has ever been the most aggressive opponent of
evangelical Christianity and has been guilty of spilling rivers of Protestant
blood, the whole idea is nauseating to the extreme. As to the claim that Paul did not speak more clearly lest Christians
be charged with plotting the downfall of the empire, this has long been the
charge of the enemies of Christ, and the Saviour Himself was so accused: “We found this fellow perverting the nation,
and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar” (Luke 23:2). No need for Paul to keep silence at this
point, as if he ever was silent for fear of men, or from lack of faith that God
could care for His own!” The idea that the restrainer of II Thessalonians
2 is the Roman Empire is fraught with such difficulties and dangers and has so
little to commend it that the theory may unhesitating be called false.
B. The Jewish State
hypothesis is suggested by Warfield:
For the continued existence of the Jewish
state was both graciously and naturally a protection of Christianity, and hence
a restraint on the revelation of the persecuting power. Graciously, it was God’s plan to develop
Christianity under the protection of Judaism for a short time, with the double
purpose of keeping the door of salvation open to the Jews until all of their
elect of that generation should be gathered in and the apostasy of the nation
should be rendered doubly and trebly without excuse, and of hiding the tender infancy
of the Church within the canopy of a protecting sheath until it should grow
strong enough to withstand all storms.
objections to this theory immediately stand out, and it is to be wondered how a
theologian of Warfield’s stature could have missed them: First, the early church did not have years
of “tender infancy,” but was from its inception on the day of Pentecost (when
three thousand were saved and added to the disciples) a sturdy, vigorous body,
so that it was said of its members, “These that have turned the world upside
down are come hither also” (Acts 17:6).
Second, the Jewish State never functioned as a “protecting sheath” about
the early Christian testimony, but to the contrary, Saul and other Jews “made
havoc of the church.” Witness Paul’s
testimony before Agrippa:
Many of the saints also did I shut up in
prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were
put to death, I gave my voice against them.
And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to
blaspheme; and being exceedingly and against them, I persecuted them even unto
strange cities (Acts 26:10, 11).
no point does the Jewish State prove to be the solution to the problem of
identifying the restrainer. Nor does
Warfield himself seem wholly satisfied with his own suggestion, for he offers
If the masculine form of “the restrainer” in
verse 7 demands interpretation as a person – which we more than doubt – it
might possibly be referred without too great pressure to James of Jerusalem,
God’s chosen instrument in keeping the door of Christianity open for the Jews
and by so doing continuing and completing their probation. Thus he may be said to have been the
upholder of the restraining power, the savour of the salt that preserved the
Christians from persecution, and so in a high sense the restrainer.
valuable as James may have been to the Early Church, it is utterly impossible
for him to be the restrainer. No man is
able to restrain all the evil within his own heart, to say nothing of doing so
throughout the world until the end of the age.
Christians are to exert a preserving influence in this world as “the
salt of the earth,” but it is also true that any success James, or any other believer,
is given must be by the power of the indwelling Spirit of God. James provides no solution to the
problem of identifying the restrainer, although the idea is not as bad as the
proposal of another that the Man of Sin is Nero, and the restrainer the
wise Seneca, his tutor, whose death he ultimately procured.
C. Human Government or Gentile
and Vine, although pretribulationalists, seem to favor this view, citing the
words of Daniel 2:37-44.
In due time the Babylonian Empire, to whose
king the words were spoken, was succeeded by the Persian, that by the Grecian,
and that again by the Roman, which flourished in the Apostle’s day.... The laws under which these states maintain
their existence were inherited from Rome as Rome inherited them from the Empire
that preceded her. Thus the existing
authorities are ordained of God ... constituted authority is intended to act in
restraint of lawlessness.
Yet even here it is
admitted that “the Roman Emperors ... presented some of the characteristics of
the Antichrist. Themselves the
representatives of the law, they were yet at heart lawless….”
is true that “the powers that be are ordained of God” (Rom. 13:1), and that
rulers are ministers of God in the sense that they derive their authority from
Him. But it is likewise true that civil
government or authority vested in Gentile rulers cannot avail in itself to
resist the forces of evil. These can
become channels of blessing to the world when the rulers are godly, but human
government which spurns the sovereignty of God and depends upon its own
resources becomes itself lawless, with corruption in high places. One has only to dip into history, or, it
might be suggested, into the daily newspapers have availed little in checking
the evil of the age and have been lawless themselves both before God and society. Then, when it is remember that the
restrainer must be caught away before the revelation of the Man of Sin, and
that Gentile dominion and human government go on into the Tribulation
unchanged, eventually to be seized by the Beast himself, it will be obvious
that such agencies in no wise correspond to that which is required of the restrainer.
strange suggestion, yet not without a following among posttribulationalists, is
that which is made for the identity of the restrainer by Mrs. George C.
Why should every one conclude that this
hinderer must be some good thing? May
not this restraining power be Satan himself?
Has he not a plan for the manifestation of the Son of Perdition, as
truly as God had a time appointed for the incarnation of His divine Son?
obvious answer is that Satan never restrains evil, but is everywhere in the
Bible presented as the author and instigator of it. He would not oppose his own program, for:
If a house be divided against itself, that
house cannot stand. And if Satan rise
up against himself, and be divided, he cannot stand, but hath an end (Mark
Scriptures represent the restrainer as holding the whole course of iniquity in
check, not just withholding Antichrist until the time appointed. Also, Satan is not removed from the scene before
the disclosure of his false Christ; rather, he is ejected from the heavenly
sphere and cast down upon the earth, together with his unholy angels (Rev.
12:9). The earth will be no new sphere
for Satan’s working, but then he will be in full control. Satan is never the restrainer of evil. He is rather the deceiver of the whole
world. This has ever been his objective
E. The Church
suggestion that the restrainer of iniquity may be the Church, the redeemed of
this age, has far more to commend it than any suggestion considered thus
far. Like salt, Christians are a true
preservative in a civilization which is corrupt and marked for death. As lights, they are to shine in a world of
darkness; as ambassadors, they witness for Christ and show forth their heavenly
citizenship. Yet, the Church is at best
an imperfect organism, perfect in standing before God, to be sure, but experimentally
before men, not always blameless, not always beyond reproach. Similar to human government, the Church is
being used of God to hinder the full manifestation of the Evil One in this
present age, but He who effectively restrains is certainly not the believer
himself, but the One who empowers the believer, even the indwelling Holy Spirit
(John 16:7; I Cor. 6:19). Apart from
His presence, neither Church nor government would avail to hinder the program
and power of Satan.
is doubtful if the Church is in view in II Thessalonians 2:6, 7. The restraining force of verse six is
referred to in the neuter, that which, while the person of the
restrainer in verse seven is in the masculine.
Since the Greek word for church, ekklesia, is a first declension
noun and always used in the feminine gender, any attempted identification of
the Church as the restrainer would see precarious. Even so, the Church has more to commend itself in the role of
restrainer than any suggestion previously considered. IT should not go unnoticed that if the Church is the restrainer,
she will be “taken out of the midst” before the coming of the “lawless one,”
which would mean that the Church could not first pass through the Tribulation.
Holy Spirit as Restrainer
are a number of factors which unite to provide a positive identification that
the restrainer of II Thessalonians 2:6, 7 is none other than the Holy
Spirit. Posttribulationalist Scruby
writes: “I believe, but cannot prove,
that Paul did mean the Holy Spirit.” Perhaps the following discussion will help
others of like doubtful persuasion to see the issues involved and the evidence
for making such an identification.
A. Reasons for This Identification
following reasons are suggestive, rather than exhaustive, in their treatment:
By mere elimination, the Holy Spirit must be the restrainer. All other possibilities fall far short of
meeting the requirements of one who is to hold in check the forces of evil
until the manifestation of Antichrist.
Some of the alternate suggestions are out of harmony with the basic text
The Wicked One is a personality, and his operations
include the realm of the spiritual. The
restrainer must likewise be a personality and of a spiritual order, to resist
the wiles of the Devil and to hold Antichrist in check until the time of his
revealing. Mere agencies or impersonal
spiritual forces would be inadequate.
Moreover, the masculine gender of II Thessalonians 2:7 requires the
restrainer to be a person.
To believe all that is to be accomplished, the restrainer
must be a member of the Godhead. He
must be stronger than the Man of Sin, and stronger than Satan. In order to restrain evil down through the
course of the age, the restrainer must be eternal, for Satan and his workers of
iniquity have made their influence felt throughout the entire history of the
Church. Likewise, the theater of sin is
the whole world, making it imperative that the restrainer be one who is not
limited by time or space. Such a one is
the Holy Spirit of God, for He is omnipotent, eternal, and omnipresent
throughout the universe, and therefore preeminently qualified to hold in check
all of the Satanic forces of darkness.
This present age is in a particular sense the “dispensation
of the Spirit,” for He works in a way uncommon to other ages as an abiding Presence
within the children of God. While
Christ dwelt among men for the space of thirty-three years, the Spirit is the
only member of the Trinity to have an earthly abode throughout the age (John
16:7; Acts 1:5, 2:4, I Cor. 3:16; 6:19, etc.).
As part of His present ministry, believers are regenerated by the
Spirit (John 3:5, 6), baptized by the Spirit (I Cor. 12:12, 13), indwelt
by the Spirit (Rom. 8:9; I Cor. 6:19, 20), and sealed by the Spirit
(Eph. 1:13; 4:30). It is God’s will
that they should be filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18).
Church age commenced with the advent of the Spirit at Pentecost, and will close
with a reversal of Pentecost, the removal of the Spirit. This does not mean that He will not longer
be operative in the world, but only that He will no longer be resident upon the
The work of the Spirit since His advent has included
the restraint of evil. The Spirit of
God’s righteous Agent for the age, and there are many reasons to be grateful
for His restraining hand upon this world’s iniquity. None but the Lawful One could restrain the workings of Satan, the
lawless one. The book of Revelation reveals
how awful this work will be without the hand of the Spirit, when the power of
Satan will be unleashed with none to rebuke, and when sin will know no
restraint. Meanwhile, the Spirit does restrain,
for this is part of the work He came to do.
It is expedient for you that I go away: for if
I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will
send him unto you. And when he is come,
he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me ...
of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged (John 16:7-11).
inestimable value is the quiet work of the Spirit in behalf of those who are
Christ’s, guiding believers into all truth (John 16:13), empowering for witness
(Acts 1:8), convicting of sin (Eph. 4:30), and assisting believers in their
stand against the wiles of the Devil (Eph. 6:11, 17, 18). When Christians are exhorted to overcome the
spirit of Antichrist, they are reminded that the Holy Spirit is greater than Satan. “Ye are of God, little children, and have
overcome them [that have the spirit of antichrist[: because greater is he [the
Spirit] that is in you, than he [Satan] that is in the world” (I John
4:4). How different it will be in the
Tribulation when many of these gracious influences will be removed. How manifestly possible for the Church to go
into the Tribulation once the Spirit has been caught away from the earth. As Strombeck well says:
Then there would be no Comforter (John 14:16)
during those awful days of torment. But
this is contrary to God’s promise: “I
will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”
There would be none to show the believer the things of Christ (John 16:14). There would be none to teach all things
(John 14:26) during those bewildering years.
There would be a Church without power to resist Satan during the time
that He is cast out from heaven upon the earth. There would be an impotent Church during the most terrible days
of the entire human history.
It is not difficult to establish that although the
Spirit was not resident on earth during Old Testament days, whatever restraint
was exerted was by the Spirit. Isaiah
testified: “When the enemy shall come in
like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him”
(Isa. 59:19). Another important passage
concerns the days of Noah and conditions which existed before the judgment of
the flood. The wickedness of Noah’s day
and the fact that life went on as usual in blindness to impending destruction
is used of the Spirit in vivid portrayal of careless and wicked men upon whom
Tribulation judgments shall fall.
As it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be
also in the days of the Son of man. They
did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the
day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all
(Luke 17:26, 27).
In the light of this Scriptural parallel, it is
exceedingly significant that in the days immediately preceding the destruction
of the flood, the restraining work of the Spirit is emphasized. God saw that the wickedness of man was great
in the earth, and to the people of that day the warning of Jehovah was clearly
given: “My spirit shall not always
strive with man” (Gen. 6:3). Couched
within that warning was the implication that the restraint of the Spirit would
be removed, after which God would act in righteous judgment. Even so, just prior to Tribulation judgment,
the restraining hand of the Spirit shall be removed from the earth. Then will the wrath of God be poured out and
the Man of Sin be revealed.
similarity between this event, so early in earth’s history, and the removal of
the Spirit at the end of the age is most striking. Evidently, in all ages, although more particularly in this age,
the Spirit has held back the flood tides of evil and checked the activities of
the principalities and powers of darkness.
Christians should be everlastingly grateful that such a restraining ministry
is part of the work of God in their behalf.
How pitifully weak are all human efforts to rebuke Satanic agencies and
to bind the Strong One (Jude 9)! The
very fact that during the Tribulation, Satan, the Antichrist, and the False
Prophet – that great trinity of evil – shall be on earth and be permitted full
sway, argues strongly that the Holy Spirit of God will not longer be resident
in the earthly sphere. It would seem
that the pretribulation removal of the Spirit fits well into the broad Biblical
pattern. It is corroborated by II
Thessalonians 2:6, 7, but is not dependent upon this one passage for its sole
B. Objections to This View
The fact that the neuter gender, “that which restraineth,”
is used in verse 6 gives the impression that Paul is speaking of am impersonal
force or agency. It is affirmed that
the neuter would be most unsuitable if the Holy Spirit were in view. Verse 7 shifts to the masculine gender, “he
who restrains,” implying personality.
Therefore, some have maintained that verse 7 speaks of the Spirit, but
that verse 6 speaks of the Church as the agent of the Spirit. While this position is not objectionable and
is still perfectly in harmony with the pretribulational interpretation of the
passage, it is not necessary for the sake of gender to deny that both verses
speak of the Spirit. The passage, of
course, is Pauline, and the use of the neuter to apply to the Spirit is not uncommon
to his writings. In Romans 8:16 and 26,
there are two clear references to the Spirit, both in the neuter gender. This very fact strengthens more than it
weakens the argument that the restrainer of II Thessalonians 2:6, recorded as
it is by the same author, is indeed the Holy Spirit. Thiessen, an authority on the Greek New Testament, confirms this
The writer holds ... that that which
“withholdeth” (neuter, ver. 6) and “he who letteth” (hindereth) (masculine,
ver. 7), is none other than the Holy Spirit.
Surely, there is no reason from the Pauline use of
the neuter gender for departing from this conclusion.
It is held by some that the phrase έκ
cannot be translated “taken out of the way” because the verb γίυομαι
seems quite incapable of the translation “removed,” or “be taken.” Thayer’s Lexicon is often referred to
as the authority, where the first definition of γίυομαι is
to become, to come into existence, begin to be, receive
being. The same verb is used of the
incarnation of Christ, when “the Word was made flesh” (John 1:14), so that II
Thessalonians 2:7 is said not to be the removal of the Holy Spirit from the
earth but the coming into being from the midst of the earth of
Antichrist, who has been withholding himself until the time is ripe for open
manifestation. However, as English has
Ginomai alone has many meanings.
We have traced through the New Testament to find that the word is used,
in various forms, 621 times, and is translated in 49 different ways.... It is rather difficult, therefore, to
determine with finality its exact meaning.
Yet practically every translation of the New Testament gives the connotation,
with ek mesou, of to be taken out of the way, or to be removed.
Lexicon does give several meanings to the verb γίυομαι,
but it must not be overlooked that when it comes to this passage, it clearly
έκ μέσου, to be taken out
of the way, 2 Th. ii. 7.” The verb γίυομαι is
exceedingly flexible and not infrequently suggests a change from one state to
another, as in John 1:14: “the Word became flesh”; Matthew 4:3: “command
that these stones be made bread”; and Matthew 21:42: “the stone which
the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner.” AS for the final clause of II Thessalonians
2:7, it is rendered “until he be taken out of the way” by the Authorized, Revised,
American Standard, Douay Versions, and others.
In the face of such substantiation, one might judge a hasty change to
some other rendering of the passage unwarranted and precarious.
The third major objection against the removal of the Holy
Spirit as the restrainer of evil is based on the false notion that the Spirit
would then have no place or ministry during the Tribulation, and that the
saints of that day would be left to their own resources.
It would seem to be incredible that those who
will be witnesses for God against the Antichrist will be left to their own resources
in coping with the delusions and awful persecutions of that hour, without the
aid of the Holy Spirit.
to this is the objection that a Jewish remnant could not be saved, yet alone
evangelize the world, without the Holy Spirit.
Reese in particular has heaped scorn and abuse upon such an idea, and
seems never to tire of expressing his contempt for such “half-converted Jews.”
Their exegesis now, instead of adhering to the
main emphasis of Scripture, and basing itself on careful and obvious deductions
from clear texts, was shot to pieces by idle speculation, by the adoption of
innovations like the Secret Rapture, and the prodigious missionary tour of the
world in 1,260 days, by an army of half-converted Jews, still in their
sins. Preachers without life, without
forgiveness, and without the Holy Ghost in the soul, will do in 1,260 days what
the whole Christian Church has been unable to do in 1,900 years – evangelize the
world. .... This at a time when, ex
hypothesi, the Holy Spirit is in heaven, Antichrist is raging here below,
and the elect evangelists are torn between the Imprecatory Psalms and the
Sermon on the Mount!
indeed is a creed that no one will profess.
It is but a poor caricature of the pretribulational position, a
veritable “straw man” set up only to be knocked down again. Yet the underlying criticism is clear, for
it questions what will be the saving and enabling power during the Tribulation
if the Spirit of God is removed. As
always, the answer lies in the Scriptures.
is believed by many that the Jews will do a large share of the evangelism
during the Tribulation period, but it is hardly fair to characterize them as
without life or forgiveness, “half-converted Jews still in their sins.” In the Tribulation, Israel is to be purged
(Deut. 4:30, 31; Zech. 13:8, 9) and there will be a national turning to God
(Ezek. 20:33-44; Rom. 11:26). The
144,000 of Israel are sealed of the Lord, and expressly called “servants of our
God” (Rev. 7:3). The martyrs of that
day will be “beheaded for the witness of Jesus” (Rev. 20:4), and will overcome
Satan by “the word of their testimony” (Rev. 12:11). There need be no doubt at all about these being redeemed men, while
the vital character of their testimony is demonstrated by the fact that they
seal their witness with their blood.
Their evangelism, coupled with the unique ministry of God’s especially
appointed two witnesses (Rev. 11:3-12), will no doubt be most effective in
turning many unto God.
can it be said that these witnesses will work without the convicting power of
the Spirit. How men have stumbled over
this simple problem! The work of
empowering and convicting during the Tribulation is still that of the Holy
Spirit. Because He is God, the Spirit
is omnipresent, and in that sense, He is present among men and operative in
every age. But it is only since Pentecost
that His place of residence has been on the earth, indwelling the
members of the true Church. When He, as
restrainer, is removed, there will be a reversal of Pentecost, which will mean
that the Spirit will minister from heaven, as during the Old Testament
economy. He will be present, but not
resident; operating, but no longer indwelling.
He will save souls, but no longer baptize them into the body of Christ,
for the Church will be complete and in heaven.
of residence does not mean loss of omnipresence or of power to save. The Spirit has various ministries, and because
He no longer restrains does not mean that He no longer draws men to
Christ. This procedure should not amaze
any who are acquainted at all with their Bibles. Did not Christ dwell in the heavenly sphere throughout the Old
Testament period, only to come to earth at His incarnation (John 1:14), and to
return to the Father at the ascension?
Christ had several particular ministries to perform while on earth, but
He did not cease to save souls when He was caught up into glory. In like manner, there is no reason for
saying that if the Holy Spirit is the restrainer, no one could be saved after
He is taken out of the way.
Jonah a “half-converted Jew still in his sin” when he preached the shortest
sermon on record and saw the mighty city of Nineveh repent in sackcloth? Did not the Spirit convict in power when the
land was swept by a mighty revival during the days of Josiah? Yet the Holy Spirit sustained the same
relationship to the earth in those days as will exist during the Tribulation. Although He will not indwell His servants in
the same sense that the Church is now indwelt, yet He will come upon them with
enabling power sufficient for all the mighty works which will characterize that
reached this point of the discussion, it would seem that the identity of the
restrainer is sufficiently established.
He who now restrains and will be taken away before the manifestation of
the Man of Sin is undoubtedly the Holy Spirit.
HE alone could fulfill all that is required of the restrainer of evil;
all other suggestions fall far short of satisfactory identification. Indeed, the Church has reason to be thankful
that He who is the Comforter, He who indwells those that are Christ’s, He who
intercedes with groanings that cannot be uttered and has baptized and sealed
God’s children until the day of redemption, also has His hand upon the course
of the age, restraining iniquity, holding back the Evil One, detaining the apostasy
of the last days, and assisting the members of the body of Christ in the task
of living the Christian life in the midst of a wicked and adulterous generation.
more ministry of the Spirit must receive mention, and that in connection with
the rapture of the Church. Even as the
servant of Abraham brought home to Isaac a bride, chosen of God, so will the
Spirit lead home the Bride of Christ.
When the Spirit is removed, then the Church must also be snatched
away. To say otherwise is to make void
the promise of Christ: “And I will pray
the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with
you for ever: Even the Spirit of
truth ... (John 14:16). The removal of
the Spirit takes place before the Wicked One shall be revealed, and this
removal sets the time for the rapture of the Church. Thus II Thessalonians 2:6, 7 adds a considerable weight of
evidence to the teaching of other Scriptures that the rapture of the Church is